Serverless Handbook

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The Serverless Handbook uses lots of terms that might be unfamiliar. I introduce them at first use and understand new words are hard.

Refer here any time you encounter an unfamiliar word. If something's missing ping me on twitter @swizec.

Words and phrases in alphabetical order.

  • ACID short for atomicity-consistency-isolation-durability, a model of database correctness
  • API short for Application Programming Interface, use to mean everything from the URL structure of a server to the public interface of a class or function
  • API Gateway the AWS service that routes HTTP requests from public URLs to internal services
  • ARN short for Amazon Resource Name, the globally unique identifier for AWS items
  • AWS amazon web services
  • CDN short for Content Distribution Network, an approach to serving static files that improves latency
  • CLI short for Command Line Interface, the terminal you type commands into
  • CORS a security protocol that limits which domains can access certain assets
  • CPU short for central processing unit, the part of computers that does most of the work
  • CRUD short for Create Read Update Delete, a typical set of operations apps need to support
  • CloudWatch the AWS service that collects and displays basic logs and metrics from every other service
  • DB short for database
  • DLQ short for Dead Letter Queue, a special queue used to hold bad messages for further debugging
  • DNS short for Domain Name System/Server, it translates domains to IP addresses
  • DX short for developer experience, a catch-all for how it feels to work with a technology
  • Go a popular lightweight language for server programming
  • I/O short for input/output, the process of reading and writing to an external medium like a hard drive or database
  • IP address the globally unique identifier for a computer on the internet
  • JSON a popular data format based on JavaScript objects
  • JVM short for Java Virtual Machine, the runtime environment for Java applications
  • QA short for Quality Assurance, used to mean both the process and the teams doing it
  • RDS short for Relational Database Service, an AWS service for hosting relational databases like Postgres and MySQL
  • S3 the AWS static file hosting service
  • SNS short for Simple Notification Service, a messaging pub/sub service on AWS
  • SQS short for Simple Queue Service, a messaging queue service on AWS
  • SSL the encrypted communication layer used on the web
  • UI short for user interface
  • VPS short for Virtual Private Server, a type of shared hosting
  • apache a common web server popular with the open source community
  • azure Microsoft's cloud and serverless computing platform
  • blockchain a distributed ledger used for cryptocurrencies, data storage, and smart contracts
  • cache a fast data storage service or app for temporary data used to improve performance
  • chrome puppeteer a library used to automate browser tasks with Chrome
  • cloud function another name for a unit in function-as-a-service serverless computing
  • cloudfront AWS's CDN service
  • compute a fuzzy term for unit of computation used to talk about pricing and performance
  • devops is a set of practices that combines development and IT operations
  • docker a popular computer virtualization software and toolkit
  • dynamodb a wide-table NoSQL database service on AWS
  • edge workers a type of cloud function that works like a CDN and aims to reduce latency
  • exponential backoff a common approach to reducing load on a 3rd party service that is struggling
  • firebase Google's suite of backend-as-a-service offerings
  • git a common version control system
  • graphql an API protocol based on queries commonly used to increase client power and flexibility
  • hashing function a secure method of uniquely encoding a string in a way that cannot be reversed
  • heroku a popular platform-as-a-service provider
  • http short for HyperText Transfer Protocol, the underlying protocol of the web
  • https the secure encrypted version of http that uses SSL
  • jamstack Javascript And Markdown stack, a stack of technologies used for modern static-first websites
  • kubernetes a popular toolkit for managing servers and containers
  • lambda function a unit in function-as-a-service serverless computing, synonym for cloud function
  • netlify a jamstack and serverless provider, popularized the jamstack approach
  • nginx a popular web server created in 2004 to address Apache's performance issues
  • nosql an umbrella term for databases that trade ACID compliance for specific performance or usability gains
  • PaaS/platform as a service a type of hosting that aims to solve infrastructure complexity
  • poison pill an unprocessable message or request
  • queue a data structure that processes messages in order, also used as shorthand for a service or application that acts as a queue
  • rainbow tables a pre-computed cache of hashes used to reverse hashed passwords
  • relational database a popular approach to storing business data since the 1970's, often synonymous with the concept of a database
  • rest a common approach to designing web APIs
  • server depending on context, a machine running software that serves internet requests, or the software itself
  • serverless an on-demand hosting environment
  • ssh short for secure shell, a protocol for remotely controlling services
  • upsert an operation that inserts a new object or updates an existing object with the same identifier
  • vercel a jamstack and serverless provider
  • yak shaving a useless activity that indirectly helps you solve a larger problem

Hello! 👋

Are you a frontend engineer diving into backend? Do you have just that one bit of code that can't run in the browser? Something that deals with secrets and APIs?

That's what cloud functions are for my friend. You take a JavaScript function, run it on serverless, get a URL, and voila.

But that's easy mode. Any tutorial can teach you that.

What happens when you wanna build a real backend? When you want to understand what's going on? Have opinions on REST vs GraphQL, NoSQL vs. SQL, databases, queues, talk about performance, cost, data processing, deployment strategies, developer experience?


Unlock your free chapter!

Access to this chapter immediately, extra free chapter and Serverless crash course in your email ✌️

I like privacy too. No spam, no selling your data.

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Dive into modern backend. Understand any backend

Serverless Handbook shows you how with 360 pages for people like you getting into backend programming.

With digital + paperback content Serverless Handbook has been more than 1 year in development. Lessons learned from 14 years of building production grade websites and webapps.

With Serverless Handbook, Swiz teaches the truths of distributed systems – things will fail – but he also gives you insight on how to architect projects using reliability and resilience perspectives so you can monitor and recover.

~ Thai Wood, author of Resilience Roundup

If you want to understand backends, grok serverless, or just get a feel for modern backend development, this is the book for you.

Serverless Handbook full of color illustrations, code you can try, and insights you can learn. But it's not a cookbook and it's not a tutorial.

Serverless Handbook on your bookshelf
Serverless Handbook on your bookshelf

Yes, there's a couple tutorials to get you started, to show you how it fits together, but the focus is on high-level concepts.

Ideas, tactics, and mindsets that you need. Because every project is different.

The Serverless Handbook takes you from your very first cloud function to modern backend mastery. In the words of an early reader:

Serverless Handbook taught me high-leveled topics. I don't like recipe courses and these chapters helped me to feel like I'm not a total noob anymore.

The hand-drawn diagrams and high-leveled descriptions gave me the feeling that I don't have any critical "knowledge gaps" anymore.

~ Marek C, engineer

If you can JavaScript, you can backend.

Plus it looks great on your bookshelf 😉

buy now amazon


Dealing with authentication
Appendix: More databases
Created bySwizecwith ❤️